Former Amazon Financial Analyst Sentenced to Prison for Insider Trading
December 10, 2017
Prosecutors Say He Provided Non-Public Information on Financial Results in Exchange for Cash
(SEATTLE, WA.) -- A former financial analyst at Amazon.com, Inc., was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 6 months in prison, a $2,500 fine and two years of supervised release for securities fraud involving insider trading, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the western district of Washington.
Brett D Kennedy, 27, currently of Blaine, Washington, pleaded guilty in September 2017, admitting that in April 2015 he provided non-public quarterly financial results to a friend who then purchased Amazon stock and sold it at a profit once the results were made public. The friend paid Kennedy for this inside information.
Kennedy is no longer employed by Amazon. At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez said, “This is a serious offense. If the public cannot have confidence in the financial markets it impacts the entire country.”
According to the information filed in the case, Kennedy began work as a financial analyst at Amazon in 2013 and as part of his employment he signed a confidentiality statement that he would not disclose Amazon’s non-public financial information outside the company.
The policy specifically mentions information such as earnings and losses as material confidential information. "In April 2015, Kennedy used his access to view and write down Amazon first quarter earnings that were going to be announced later in the month. Kennedy provided this information to his friend," said the statement from Hayes' office. "After viewing the information, the friend purchased 4400 shares of Amazon stock for $1.7 million. When the positive earnings news was announced publicly, and the stock price rose, the friend sold the shares for a gain of nearly $116,000.
The friend paid Kennedy just $10,000 in cash for the information. Speaking to the court, Kennedy apologized to his family and to Amazon saying, “I threw my success away in an instant . . . I wish every day I could go back and not be so stupid and reckless.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Kennedy. In its complaint it identifies the friend as Maziar Rezakhani, and names him as a defendant.
Rezakhani, 28, is currently serving a five year prison term for defrauding a bank, Apple, Inc., and various shipping and insurance companies. The insider trading investigation grew out of the investigation into Rezakhani’s frauds.
The SEC is seeking "disgorgement of all profits" from Rezakhani’s alleged illegal trading. Kennedy agreed to a settlement with the SEC. The case was investigated by the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner.
Let this be a lesson kids. Crime does not pay.